The shocking finding comes after researchers found evidence that the virus was present in wastewater samples taken from Milan and Turin as early as last December. The scientists’ discovery raises serious questions about where and if the disease was spreading in the months before the first outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China, in December. Experts have said the results of the test appear to be a one-off and cautioned against over-thinking the findings.
They suggested contaminated samples could be behind the outcome of the study.
However, a series of samples taken from Barcelona from January 15 onwards consistently showed traces of coronavirus.
The first case of the illness in mainland Spain was not confirmed until late February.
The team at Barcelona University used polymerise chain reaction (PCR) coronavirus tests to study the sewage.
The study is aimed at aiding the tracing and control of the virus.
Anyone who has been infected with coronavirus will pass COVID-19 cells in their faeces.
Professor of biology at the University, Albert Bosch, who led the research, said early detection could have led to a lower death toll.
He said: “In the specific case of Barcelona, having detected the contagion of SARS-CoV-2 a month earlier could have improved the response to the pandemic.”
More than 28,000 people have died after testing positive for the illness in Spain.
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8.01am update: Australia’s Victoria struggles to contain coronavirus
]Australia’s state of Victoria recorded 41 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Saturday, double the daily rate seen a week ago, struggling to gain control over the pandemic while the rest of the country continues easing social distancing restrictions.
Victoria, the country’s second-most-populated state, has now seen 11 straight days of double digit new cases, most linked to known outbreaks in Melbourne’s suburbs, health officials said.
Victoria has 204 of Australia’s total of about 270 active cases.
Deputy chief health officer of Victoria, Annaliese van Diemen, told reporters: “We are very concerned.”
One of the new cases was a returned traveller.